Conference of the European Platform of Self-Present Organizations in Peniche

From 9 to 13 April Elisabeta Moldovan and Zoltan Szoverdfi participated to the conference of the European Platform of SelfAdvocates Organizations in Peniche, Portugal.
EPSA, in short, is a member of Inclusion Europe and is an organisation of people with intellectual disabilities.

Monday they arrived at 15 o’clock and visited a day care center for people with intellectual disabilities.
There they met with more disabled people from different countries in Europe.
They visited a mill where people with disabilities work with flour.
Eli loved the mill and the things people with intellectual disabilities do very much.
After the visit they went with the group of selfadvocates at the restaurant.

On Tuesday, they participated in a workshop on the abuse of women with intellectual disabilities.
Eli was interested in this subject. She liked to find out that abuses can be of several kinds.
The workshop held until 17 o’clock.
After the conference the selfadvocates with the support persons went to the hotel.
They had a free hour until dinner.
At 19:30 they went to dinner.

On Wednesday, self-deputies with intellectual disabilities and the support persons were taken with a bus to a school.
They continued with the topic of abuse against people with disabilities.
Eli held two workshops.
She worked on groups. Eli had a group of 10 people with whom she worked very well.
One of the workshops was about how selfadvocacy is in Romania.
The second workshop was about how to live in the community and not in residential institutions.
After lunch, they were three activities that Eli could choose from.

On Thursday, selfadvocates from different countries shared what activities they do in their countries in Europe.

Friday was the meeting of the EPSA leadership group. They discussed what they should do in Birmingham. Eli is in the EPSA board and participated in the talks.
Eli liked most of the conference that every organization was able to show what it did in the country it came from.
In Birmingham, at the World Congress, Eli will present her illustrated book about her life in institutions.

Inclusive Art

“Becoming Eli”

“Becoming Eli” is the first graphic novel in Romania that dares to address a tough topic – abandonment, isolation, abuse and its consequences. Written and illustrated by Dan Ungureanu, the book introduces us into the world of Eli – in fact, in the world of thousands and thousands of children abandoned in residential institutions, later becoming adults, the majority with disabilities.
The story follows the evolution of the character, from a child left in the care of the state to an adult able to maintain itself and an activist for deinstitutionalization and for the rights of people with disabilities. Each chapter is based on an interview by the author to Eli, following in chronological order significant episodes of her life (first memories in the special school, moving from one institution to another, life in the community, difficulties in adapting to permanent changes, etc.) .

The novel aims to familiarize the general public with the issue of isolation and raise awareness about the difficulties faced by institutionalized people, including those related to integration and adaptation to life in the community, but also the presentation of existing alternatives: deinstitutionalization and the creation of inclusive community services.
In March 2017 there were still over 19,000 children and 18,000 adults with disabilities in residential institutions under state protection. Protection from institutions means abuse. It’s the beating from those who should care for you. It is the daily terror of the lack of security, the constant fear of beating, the lack of access to good and enough food, heat, hygiene, intimacy. There’s no choice to make your own decisions – including whom you are sleeping with, when you walk around or how you get dressed.

There are alternatives: community based support services where people with disabilities can learn how to live an independent life, starting from how to turn on the cooker stove, how to shop, how to pay for expenses, to work, have fun, set up a family, live a full life with its ups and downs. Deinstitutionalization is the process of transition from institutions to such support services. Deinstitutionalization is not the alternative but the way to alternatives. We can be together with the thousands of Eli from Romania!

Editorial project co-funded by the National Cultural Fund Administration, 2017.
All proceeds from the sale of the book go to Ceva De Spus Association.
Details on the facebook page of the book, “Spune-mi Eli/Becoming Eli”.
Press contact: Despina Ungureanu,, 0720036993

Stop violence against women with disabilities

During 25-28 of September, Eli and Andreea went to Brussels for a training course organized by Inclusion Europe.
Together with our support person we arrived safely to Brussels.
There we met the director of Inclusion Europe and other self-advocates from several countries.
On the first day we met with other self-advocates.
Then the director of Inclusion Europe, Milan, explained us which are the main institutions in the EU.
The theme of the training was stopping violence against women with disabilities.
Juuultje from Netherlands presented a study on violence against women with disabilities in residential institutions.
Every week 50 women in the European Union die because of their husbands’ violence.
Violence against women with disabilities is three times higher.
Violence against women with disabilities living in residential institutions is two times higher than in the community.
Violence can be at different types: Physical violence, sexual violence, verbal violence, psychical violence, etc.
On the second day we worked in teams of 4 and prepared the meeting with the members of the European Parliament.
We worked with Maureen, the president of Inclusion Europe.
After we finished we had dinner with Senada who is self-advocate from Croatia and with Maureen, president of Inclusion Europe. We discussed how to work better more efficient with Sara, who is representing us in Inclusion International.
On the 3 day we went to the European Parliament to meet with Mrs. Maria Grapini, Member of the European Parliament.
We were invited to her office and talked about guardianship, violence against women with disabilities, life in residential institutions and deinstitutionalization.
We had half an hour to discuss these important issues.
Mrs. Grapini gave us a painting and a badge with the flags of Romania and the European Union.
She promised to support us in accessibility, deinstitutionalization and guardianship.
Now we have to meet her in Timisoara and work together.
After the meeting, we all gathered at Inclusion Europe and told each team how the meeting was at the European Parliament.
Then we went to our homes.
We also visited the city because Andreea was for the first time in this city and had her first airplane flight.
Andreea was very nervous but she managed well.
We hope Mrs. Grapini will keep her promises and will support us in our work to improve the quality life of persons with disabilities.

Andreea and Eli







Armonia trams are accessible!

On Friday I was with two of my collegues from Ceva de Spus on a walk.
We tried the new accessible trams.
We wanted to see if wheelchair users can travel by tram.
We started our journey from the post office and we wanted to arrive to the cathedral.
Once we got to the station, we called the telephone line for people with disabilities.
A nice lady answered the phone.
She asked the driver from the first tram to help us get in.
But the driver didn’t know how the ramp is working.
The second driver failed to use the ramp so we couldn’t use the following tram.
The third tram came but the driver didn’t have the remote control.
The forth tram was a success as the driver managed to lower the ramp.
I was very happy I could get in.
I can say that all wheelchair users have the opportunity to travel by tram.
All you need to do is to call the telephone line and ask for help.
I hope the drivers will be all trained on how to use the ramp.
I hope more wheelschair users travel by tram as they are accessible for all.

On Friday, me and two collegues from Ceva de Spus, went on a walk. We decided to take the new accessible trams to see how they work for wheelchair users. We wanted to travel from the main post office to the cathedral.

Once we got to the tram station, we called the disability hotline the transport company offers (Green Line – 0800.410.415)

The operator was very kind and announced the driver from the first tram that we need help to get in.

As the tram arrived in the station, the driver got off, opened the box and took out the remote control. Unfortunately, the activation light was not functioning indicating that the elevator is not working.

We didn’t give up, we called the operator once again telling him that we couldn’t get in.The operator announced the next driver but he told us: I can’t help you, I don’t have the key!

The following driver failed to find the way the remote control is activated so we decided to try the forth tram. We called the operator and asked for another tram. After a couple of minutes, 3 different trams came, two old ones and one new accessible tram. The drivers worked together and one of them remembered that you need to push the doors harder to activate the remote control. This allowed us to use the ramp and get in the tram. Although it was very difficult, the drivers were very kind.

At first, I was sad I couldn’t get into the tram but in the end it was worth the effort. I managed to have a ride after a long time.

As a conclusion, we can use the new trams, we can use them as any other citizen. I advise wheelchair users to get out more often and use the trams so that drivers don’t forget how to use the elevator.

I hope all wheelchair users will fiind it easy to got o school, to work or shopping once these accessible trams are available in our city.

Gerber Andrei-Heinrich
Ceva de Spus member









Europe in Action 2017

First to the third of June, Europe in Action Conference took place.
Inclusion Europe organised the conference.
The conference was held in Prague.
The conference theme was Love, life and friendship.
Eli and her supporter joined the conference.

Maureen Piggot, the president of Inclusion Europe had an opening speech.
Senada Halilcevic, president of EPSA, self-advocate from Croaţia spoke about friendship.
300 professionals, self-advocates and supporters from all over Europe attended the conference.
Proffessionals and self-advocates delivered presentations related to the topic of the conference.
There were several workshops participants could attend.
Eli had a presentation on the topic of Friendships for people with disabilities raised in residential institutions.

Self-advocates from EPSA had their General Meeting.
EPSA’s president presented the activity report.
Self-advocates presented their associations and their work.
Self-advoates elected a new board.
Eli was elected in the board for two more years.
She will lead EPSA together with another 4 self-advocates from Europe.








In the vineyard without barriers

In weekend people usually tend to be lazy. Well, not in our case because on 29th of April we spent a lovely Saturday at Aramic and Thesaurus wineries.

2 minibuses left Timisoara filled with wine lovers and volunteers of ROVINHUD wine fair.

The first stop was Aramic winery. We were greeted with a smile by Adalbert, the winemaker. He started to make us the tour of the cellar and then led us to vines.

We talked with him about shoots and work in the vineyard, but what impressed me most was the moment when he sat down at the same level of our wheelchairs to explain us better. For us, wheelchair users, it is very important to be able to carry a conversation at the same level, not just because it is comfortable but also is a sign of equality.

From the vineyard we went directly to the wine cellar, where we could saw the pressing machines, coolers and all the equipment they use in winemaking. We have tasted the following wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel, Rose, Merlot. They were all good! J

After 2 hours of talks and tastings, we took a delicious lunch and the terrace began to be filled with our laughter, a sign that although the group was made up of people with or without disabilities, it managed once again to cross any barriers.

After we headed to Thesaurus Wines where we were welcomed by Paul who also took us to the vineyard and told us about the wine cellar. I loved it so much that both in the vineyard and not only, we supported each other and we were mindful of the needs of those next to us.

We went to an elegant tasting room where we delighted our senses with the following wines: Italian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon. I had also a new experience when I first tasted sea buckthorn brought by Paul. J

Before I left, I took a few moments to quietly admire the view of the vineyard and to breath the fresh air. I wanted to treasure in my heart the memory of a wonderful and inclusive day in which we managed to get closer to each other with the help of the wine.

We are grateful to Aramic and Thesaurus Wines for their hospitality! J

Raluca Popescu












When the Tigers dream…

My name is Andreea, and I have a dream for the people of my city. My dream is to build a team that plays basketball from wheelchair.

But for you to understand where it all started, I began to participate in this great sport a few years ago when I played wheelchair basketball in Timisoara as part of the Motivation Foundation, on a project basis. The project lasted only one year, and I have not played since.

Although many years have passed, my soul still has a desire to play basketball. So, I came up with an idea, to create a wheelchair basketball team in Timisoara as it is the only city that does not have one.

The name of the team will be “Tigers of Banat”. Why? Well, because we want to show that we are capable winners and that we are strong. And last but not least because we are from Banat.
The team members may be people with and without disabilities.

During my experience as a wheelchair basketball player, I can say that sport helps you to become more confident and also shows that disability is not really what matters, but what matters is ABILITY.

My colleagues at “Ceva de Spus” (Something to Say) also believe in the same values, so this year they chose to support the team from the 2% of income tax. At present, we need six special wheelchairs for playing basketball. One chair costs about 2,000 euros. Basketball wheelchairs are special because the wheels are slightly inclined and a rear wheel is attached which does not let you fall.

If you directing the 2% of your income tax you can support our work to change the mentality of people with disabilities.
With your 2% you help us to make our dream possible!

The 2% form can be found here >

Thank you,
Andreea Herbei


A Saturday at Petro Vaselo

As organisers of ROVINHUD Wine Fair we want to learn more about wine, so recently we visited Petro Vaselo winery.

Petro Vaselo is a small wine cellar, which has very good wines and those who work there have passion for wine and people.

When we arrived to the wine cellar, Diana and Marco, the wine maker, welcomed us warmly with a smile, though it was very cold outside.

We didn’t had much time to think of the coldness beacause Marco beginned to make us a tour of the winery and told us how wine is produced.

We could saw how the different equipments look and for what are they used. After that we went in the cellar.

Once we got there we saw how it looks a press and the different barrels.

We found out from Diana that the harvest begins in the summer and ends in the late autumn, depending on the grape varieties.

We would have liked to see how the grapes are harvested, but who knows. We hope to come back in the summer.

We finished the tour with a small wine tasting and we finished our visit happy of the beautiful experience.

The wines that we tasted were: Bendis, Alb de Petro Vaselo, Roșu de Petro Vaselo, Ovaș.

Thank you Diana and Marco because you have sacrificed your Saturday for us and we have been able to understand better wine with your help. 

Raluca Popescu




EPSA meeting 2017

On 18th of November I was with my support person for 3 days at the EPSA Board meeting in Brussels.
EPSA is the European Platform of Self-Advocates with intellectual disabilities in Europe.

At the meeting attended self-advocates from 4 countries:
1. Croatia, 2. Romania, 3. Hungary, 4. Spain

On the first day we’ve known better each other and worked together on certain topics.
We worked on 2 teams and had to find 3 priorities for us.

The most important issues were:
1. Independent living and deinstitutionalization
2. Inclusive education and employment
3. Supported decision making and legal capacity.

On the 2nd day we figured out how we can work more effectively in our countries.
Whom we should address to solve our priorities.
At the end of this meeting we discussed about the Conference of self-advocates which will be held on November 2017.
We also discussed how we can make meetings on skype.
For me it was a very good experience because I started to understand EPSA better.

Elisabeta Moldovan



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